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Ban: Syria Massacres could Ignite Civil War

“We are not there to play the role of passive observer to unspeakable atrocities," UN head says of presence in Syria.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 5/31/2012, 7:39 PM

A U.N. observer documents massacre
A U.N. observer documents massacre
Reuters

The massacre of civilians of the sort seen last weekend could plunge Syria into a catastrophic civil war — a civil war from which the country would never recover,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday in Turkey.

“I demand that the government of Syria act on its commitments under the Annan peace plan. A united international community demands that the Syrian government act on its responsibilities to its people.”

Ban said nations must speak more loudly in “these difficult times, in the face of humankind’s terrible capacity for inhumanity.”

"We hear a great deal about the so-called ’clash of civilizations’ — the supposed rift between predominantly Muslim and Western societies,” he said, according to the Associated Press. “That is not what is going on in Syria. There, it is the old story of a tyranny seeking to hold power. And in seeking to hold on to power, the regime threatens to exacerbate tensions among Syria’s diverse people, much as we saw in the former Yugoslavia two decades ago.”

The UN is in Syria "to record violations and to speak out so that the perpetrators of crimes may be held to account,” Ban said at a summit of the Alliance of Civilizations, a forum that promotes understanding between the Western and Islamic worlds.

"Let me state plainly, however: The UN did not deploy in Syria just to bear witness to the slaughter of innocents. We are not there to play the role of passive observer to unspeakable atrocities."

The rebels of the Free Syrian Army on Thursday gave President Bashar al-Assad until Friday noon to observe the UN-brokered plan to end bloodshed in the country. Otherwise, it warned, it will no longer be tied by any commitment to the ceasefire plan brokered by UN envoy Kofi Annan.

Meanwhile, a Saudi scholar has offered a $450,000 reward for assassinating Syrian President Bashar Al Assad following the Houla massacre.

"We announce a reward of $450,000 for whoever kills the assassin Bashar Al Assad, whose massacres of women and children have horrified the world," Ali Al Rabieei said on his Twitter account.